Continuing on from my Economics and Budget discourse from the previous month (Issue 140, Oct ‘07), I have been further exercising my brain about the arbitrary nature of our current economic paradigm and how this compares to the mechanistic/ wholistic dichotomy in healthcare.
It has been accepted for several decades within the Complementary and Integrated Health community that the linear Descartian logic, viewing the body as a mechanical machine, is outdated. Progress in psychoneuroimmunology, quantum physics and graphical depictions of how the mind influences body functions has resulted, in the so-called ‘wholistic’ paradigm view, that the Mind, Body and Emotion/ Spirit are interconnected.
I have been further reflecting that a similar dichotomy exists in Economics and Business. The linear analogy – that there is a fixed pot of money and it gets doled out to people and businesses according to their worth, is how budgets now rule our entire lives. Hospitals, nursery centres, schools, businesses, clinics, practitioners – every enterprise, in fact – now works to a budget, as does the country and government.
Whereas, however, all businesses, hospitals and people survive or fail according to ‘market forces’, the government can decide to increase their budget deficit: go to war, build more roads, host the Olympics, expand the nuclear power program, etc. And whereas the government and the Banks have huge resources of capital funds, the rest of us don’t have that luxury. We all have to do our budgets, launch our programs, cut costs, work harder; if money runs out and we are not rescued by some charitable act, we are at the mercy of the Banks and the Tax Man. There is no get-out-of-jail card for the too hard-working, usually indebted self-employed or small businesses which make up the bulk of the Complementary and Integrated Health communities.
And just who determines the value of goods? Who says that a footballer or rock star should be worth more than an ambulance driver or doctor, or that gold or silver should be worth more than topsoil or peat or granite? These values are not only arbitrary, but they are also not real, almost virtual, because in the real world, we have to grow food, drink water and breathe air to live, not trade in derivative bonds or kick a football around.
A recent Radio 4 business expert commented that the notion of a ‘heart’ of business, which had recently gone out of fashion, is making a comeback. In other words, to be a living, breathing and viable entity, a business or service had to have craft, expertise and ‘love’ for what they did, and that their products or services would therefore find a market of like-minded customers who appreciated this expertise. This is the equivalent, in my mind, of the mechanistic versus wholistic healthcare debate.
Bodyworkers, Hypnotherapists, Reflexologists, Nutritionists, Midwives and Physiotherapists – all these qualified, caring and competent practitioners make an extraordinary contribution to the lives of their patients, and to the universal healthcare knowledge base. There is not – as the randomized double-blind controlled trials fundamentalist brigade would have us believe – merely one type of research evidence; the whole of medicine and healthcare’s experience in healing human beings and animals embraces the anecdotal Clinical Case Studies, laboratory tests, small preliminary trials and cohort studies as well. Yet another attack at the validity of herbal medicine was launched just prior to going to Press, with a pathetic ‘systematic review of the herbal medicine literature’ which consisted of merely 3 studies!!
My hat goes off in admiration to Richard Graham, Physiotherapist and Founder of PhysioMed Overseas, author of Barefoot in Honduras
(page 19), cover story of this November Issue of PH
. This inspiring story narrates how small groups of medics and physios, with virtually no equipment more sophisticated than ice and heat packs, Acupuncture needles and the like, work in poor countries such as Honduras. These unpaid, voluntary workers have to set broken limbs, fix gunshot wounds and burns in the most primitive of conditions. The woman on the PH
cover had been suffering from trigeminal neuralgia for 15 years and hadn’t been free of pain until acupuncture administered by Physiomed practitioners.
These are true heroes; if you asked the people that had been helped by their kindness and largess about their worth, I bet that it would have exceeded the values of stockbrokers or pop stars. Health is priceless; those of us administering healthcare should remember that the tools of our trade are valuable economic weapons.
We have just launched a new inexpensive online DIY text ad facility for practitioners without budgets. You can set your own ad and change it as often as you like. More information on page 17.
1. R Guo PH Canter and E Ernst. A systematic review of randomised clinical trials of individualised herbal medicine in any indication. Postgrad Med J
633-637. doi: 10.1136/pgmj.2007.060202. http://press.psprings.co.uk/pgmj/october/633_pj60202.pdf 2007